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How Signs Function as Marketing

William (Bill) Hayes

A strong sign will help your business sell. Signage on the exterior of your shop lets people know that you are there and helps you stand out from other businesses. Signage on the interior guides customers toward certain products and can drive impulse buys.


Signs certainly have an upfront presence, so they are critical for marketing. Simple inclusion of your logo will help with brand-building. You can also use signs to let people know about sales that you're having and to get across key products or services. Perhaps the most positive aspect of a sign is that it is up 24/7 and is always working.


If you do not have much money to invest in marketing, signage can be a powerful way to make an impact – according to the US Small Business Administration. The SBA suggested how powerful signage is by looking at it in terms of the cost-per-thousand, a measure of how much it costs to reach 1000 prospects. Cost-per-thousand is substantially lower for signage than other advertising forms, per the agency’s analysis.


Best practices to leverage the marketing power of a sign


Here are a few best practices so that you can make the most out of your sign as a marketing tool (with ideas from Shopify and The Houston Chronicle):


  • Exactitude: Succeeding with a sign is about the details: you want the ideal sign placed in the best possible position. Know the importance of niche-targeting with the sign, and narrowcast accordingly, with any specific offerings you feel are critical enough to highlight. Be very conscientious about the location: you can either building-mount or ground-mount a sign. If you mount the sign on the ground, generally you want to place it roadside so that it's easily view-able from passing cars. Mounting it on the building allows you to naturally elevate it. This method is standard in areas of higher density that have significant foot traffic.
  • Simplicity: Clarity is key with your sign (see below), and bear in mind that information-overload will have a negative influence. You want to be able to state the idea behind the sign as an elevator pitch – in two sentences or less. If the content of the sign is too complex to fit in that window, either cut it down or consider splitting what you want to say into multiple signs. Above all, make certain that the sign is highly readable, as discussed in the below section.
  • Brand savvy: As indicated above, branding can be achieved through signage; and it's not just about a logo. You will also improve your company's brand image through a careful, coordinated selection of images, hues, and fonts. Branding may seem to be extraneous to the function of your business, but it is highly important in terms of marketing psychology, as a way to connect at the level of tone and perception with prospects. Your firm is likelier to stick in people's minds when you brand with signage; furthermore, your sales should increase.
  • Limited-time promotions: Sales and specials can serve as a magnet to bring people into your shop. Signs that introduce limited-time deals lead to engagement – both browsing and actual sales.
  • Hierarchy: Since the primary concern with your text is that it is very easy to digest, you want to hierarchize the language into different positions – headline, explanation, and call to action.
  • Closing: Your main business sign may be simple because it is primarily a label for your location. However, for signs with descriptive content, it is critically important to have a call to action, just like any other marketing pieces do.


The special issue of readability (poll)


Signs have to be simple to work, as discussed above; central to that concern is the sign’s readability. After all, the chief role of your signage is to communicate important elements of your business, such as its name and key offerings. Through the manner in which you deliver this information, you can point traffic in your direction and brand the quality of your store.


A survey conducted by the University of Cincinnati sought to figure out exactly why signage fails in its readability. The findings revealed that it is all too common for a person to pass a business without noticing it in time because the signage was illegible or otherwise inadequate.


From the UC poll, here are the top 9 reasons a sign is difficult to read (ordered from the least to most often cited reason):


  • 31.7% – Visuals that distract from the message
  • 34.4% – Lack of differentiation / similarity to signs in the vicinity
  • 35.6% – Not enough space between the letters
  • 47.8% – Font is too decorative and not clear enough
  • 52.6% – Messaging is shifting too quickly on a digital sign
  • 60.3% – Lack of distinction in the lettering and background colors
  • 63.6% – Lack of sufficient illumination when it's dark
  • 71.4% – Not positioned in an easy-to-see place
  • 83.3% – Letters not large enough to easily read.




Are you in need of high-quality signage for your business? At Signdealz, we focus on giving you the ability to control your advertising with unique and cool custom signs. View our work.

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William (Bill) Hayes
Written by

William (Bill) Hayes

William (Bill) Hayes, with over 20 years of experience, is deeply committed to assisting small and medium-sized businesses in developing effective B2B advertising strategies. His expertise primarily focuses on integrating on-premise signage solutions with traditional advertising methods. At Signdealz, Hayes leads the charge in innovating advertising tactics aimed at SMEs, concentrating on generating efficient, lead-producing mechanisms that outperform competitors in both immediacy and cost-effectiveness. He spends much of his time working directly with small business owners, guiding them in evaluating locations, advertising strategies, and the necessary systems to attract customers to physical sites. Utilizing a tested network of partners, Hayes plays a crucial role in facilitating the nationwide distribution of signage, underscoring his dedication to enhancing the visibility and growth of businesses across various sectors.

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